Israel is often referred to as an apartheid state.
With a system that imposes racism, oppression and segregation and is enforced by a brutal military, there are certainly similarities.
What will be familiar to Capetonians is the Jewish state’s project to “annex” Palestinian territory to create settlements for Israelis.
This “illegal” occupation of land (according to international law) is their version of our Group Areas Act of 1966.
The Palestinians of East Jerusalem are currently facing the trauma that our grandparents lived through in District Six.
But with a cruel twist.
You see, when the National Party government gave the order to demolish District Six, they had the decency to leave the churches and mosques standing.
Among the rubble and ruin remained the Zeenatul Islam and Al Azhar mosques; as well as the Moravian, St. Mark’s Anglican, New Apostolic and Holy Cross churches.
Those apartheid demons knew better than to desecrate holy ground.
They also allowed non-white people to continue worshipping in peace. Thank God.
The Palestinians are not so lucky.
Last Friday - the final Jumu’ah of the holy month of Ramadaan - armed Israeli forces stormed the iconic Al Aqsa mosque.
While Palestinians were praying, the troops broke in, marched in with their shoes on and fired stun grenades at worshippers.
The Muslims (who were praying to the same Jewish God of Abraham and Moses) were armed with nothing but fezzes and Qur’ans.
Hundreds have been injured by rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas in the attacks around Islam’s third holiest site.
Now, all politics, hostilities and disputes over land aside... Who the hell does that?!
This is NOT apartheid. This is something else.
The latest violence was sparked by plans to evict Arab families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood in Jerusalem, to make way for Israeli settlers.
It’s a sort of Expropriation of Land without Compensation, but without the legal, constitutional and parliamentary process that SA is following.
It’s an explosive issue, alright.
Many South Africans have warned the government that they are prepared to defend their private property with their lives should this happen.
This is exactly what the Palestinians have done – except they get labelled “terrorists” for it.
So what should they be doing? “Peacefully” pack up their belongings and hand over the keys?
Throw a house-warming party for the new Israeli home owners?
No, they’ve resisted.
They’ve demonstrated in the streets of Jerusalem, clashing with Israeli forces in violent scenes that have been broadcast on international TV and social media.
In the past week, the hostilities have escalated dramatically, to the brink of all-out war.
Rockets have been fired by both sides since the start of the week.
Gaza’s Ministry of Health said the death toll since Monday stood at at least 65, including 16 children. At least 365 people have been wounded.
Six people have been killed on the Israeli side by rocket fire, including the first Israeli soldier.
And there are no signs of a ceasefire, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warning Hamas: “This is just the beginning. We’ll hit them like they’ve never dreamed possible.”
It’s war. Sadly.
But why should we as South Africans care? Why are hundreds of Capetonians marching in solidarity with Palestine each day?
Because they’re Muslim? Because it’s an international law and human rights issue? Yes and yes.
But also because Palestine is our historical ally. Our comrade in the Struggle.
Remember, when most of the world turned a blind eye to the atrocities of the apartheid government (and even supported the Nats), Palestine offered real support for our fight for liberation.
The ANC, the EFF and many other religious and civil society groups have publicly condemned Israel’s aggression.
Because, make no mistake, Palestinians are not the ones forcing Israelis off their land. It’s the other way around.
And locals are calling for boycotts and the shutdown of the Israeli embassy in Pretoria.
The DA and Vryheidsfront Plus – who are usually very vocal on Expropriation of Land without Compensation – have been rather quiet, on the other hand.